April 15, 2016 by Greg Meckbach, Associate Editor
Insurance providers with a mobile web presence need to ensure their pages load quickly, a Google Inc. executive suggested Thursday to industry professionals in Toronto during the Centre for Study of Insurance Operations (CSIO) annual members’ meeting.
“Google is optimizing [Internet search] results based on your site speed,” said Sanjay Gosalia, head of industry, financial services for Mountain View, Calif.-based Google. “The faster you are, the higher your search results will be.”
Gosalia was the keynote speaker at the CSIO meeting.
Consumers want “great performance and great speed on mobile site,” Gosalia suggested during his presentation at the National Club in Toronto’s financial district.
“When the site doesn’t load, consumers are highly highly irritated,” Gosalia suggested of survey results. “They found it annoying. So as you think about managing performance, especially on mobile, you have to think about speed.”
During the formal portion of the members’ meeting, CSIO chairman Steve Whitelaw announced this year’s board of directors.
Whitelaw thanked two directors – including Ted Harman, vice chairman since 2011- whose two-year terms have ended. The other departing director is Bill Simms, commercial accounts director of St. John’s, Nfld.-based Crosbie Jobs Insurance.
Harman, president of Montreal brokerage Accent Insurance Solutions, is a former secretary-treasurer of Regroupement des cabinets de courtage d’assurancedu Quebec (RCCAQ). Harman also sits on the technology committee of the Insurance Brokers Association of Canada (IBAC) and has been president of the Concordia Brokers Association in Montreal. Harman started his career in 1984 in Toronto with Progressive Casualty Insurance Company. Before becoming a broker, he was vice president business development for ING Insurance in Montreal.
“The ultimate goal [for brokers] is to be able to work from a single work platform that will make us more efficient,” Harman told Canadian Underwriter in 2014. “It’s more than a laudable goal. I think it’s a necessary goal for our industry.”
On Thursday, Catherine Smola, CSIO’s president and chief executive officer, thanked Harman and Simms for their “drive and dedication and for helping to share CSIO’s mandate and vision over the last few years.”
Simms represented Atlantic Canada on the CSIO board, Whitelaw said.
Toronto-based CSIO’s members include property and casualty insurers, brokers and technology vendors. It oversees development, implementation and maintenance of technology standards and forms including eDocs, which is intended to let brokers download policy documents directly from a carrier’s computer system to a broker management system (BMS), and to store those documents in their BMS without manual intervention.
In 2013, CSIO announced that eDocs would be the first business activity available for certification. That program is “designed to ensure standards-based solutions are uniformly implemented across the country, significantly improving efficiencies to the broker channel,” Smola told members during CSIO’s 2014 members’ meeting in Toronto.
CSIO certification is free to paying members, who need to submit an application package to be reviewed by CSIO.
“We live and breathe [electronic data interchange] and [extensible markup language] standards implementation guidelines, CSIOnet traffic reports, producing white papers and videos on such hot and sexy topics as transport layer security, and search engine optimization and the list goes on and on,” Smola said Thursday.
Harman presented awards to companies who achieved certification in either commercial lines eDocs, personal lines eDocs or eDelivery in the past year. Ten members achieved 11 certifications. Fairfax Financial Corp.’s Northbridge Insurance subsidiary is the first carrier to be certified for all three of commercial lines eDocs, personal lines eDocs and eDelivery.
Smola noted that eDelivery “allows members to leverage the CSIOnet platform together with the eDocs standard, to deliver personal lines policies electronically to insurers through Canada Post’s epost platform.” She added eDelivery improves the “ease of doing business within the broker distribution channel” for insurance customers.
During the formal portion of the meeting, Whitelaw noted that he has a year left in his two-year term. Whitelaw – vice president of strategic planning and execution for Travelers Canada – was acclaimed at the 2015 members’ meeting to his current term on the board.
The two new CSIO board members are Steve Earle, managing partner for W.C.L. Bauld Insurance Brokers, and Bruno Fortin, president of J. Gerard Fortin & Associes Inc. Whitelaw announced Thursday that Earle and Fortin have been acclaimed to two-year terms.
Four existing board members were acclaimed to new two-year terms: Sheldon Wasylenko, president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Saskatchewan and general manager of Rayner Agencies Ltd.; Sean Christie, chief information officer and vice-president of information services at Gore Mutual Insurance Company; Andrew Wood, chief information officer of Northbridge Financial Corp.; and Jack Ott, senior vice president and chief information officer at Intact Financial Corp.
In addition to Whitelaw, five other directors have another year remaining. The are: John Belyea, chief operating officer of Moore McLean Insurance Group Ltd.; Syd Church, vice president of applications and strategic initiatives for Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Company; Keith Jordan, president and chief executive officer of Hub International Horizon Insurance; Ben Isotta-Riches, chief information officer of Aviva Canada; and Paula Sinclair, senior vice president of information technology and chief information officer for RSA Canada.
After his keynote speech, an audience member asked Gosalia whether he sees brokerages taking advantage of Internet search data analysis and mobile apps.
“There’s a distinct need for direct-to-consumer insurers to leverage digital,” Gosalia said. “Same with the banks. That’s the way they distribute. That’s the way they connect. We are starting to see signs of brokerages doing the same in terms of building their capabilities and in terms of equipping their brokers with not only the education but the tools.”